Are the ropens always nocturnal?

In August of 2009, a university student in Papua New Guinea sent me an email. Here is part of it: (minor English corrections for grammar and spelling, etc)

Hi. My name is Rex Yapi. I’m a second-year business-accounting student at the PNG University of Technology in Lae City. [The city of Lae is on the mainland, many miles from Umboi Island (called by these people “Siasi”), where this sighting took place and where I, Jonathan Whitcomb, explored and interviewed eyewitnesses in 2004.]

I just want to [tell] you of the current sighting of the dragon named “Ropen.” I was on an out-board motor as early as 9 a.m., when we saw a giant creature floating along the coast line near Bunsil Bay.  Its body was submerged under the sea but its tail was emerged. I saw that its tail is about 6-7 meters long with a sharp diamond-shape. It was an awesome scenerio and I started pointing to the others towards the object. It was floating 10 meters away from the boat and its color was brownish-dark without any form of hair.

Being in fear, we stopped the boat to let it pass by. Later I was told that Bunsil Bay Coast Line up the Goosh River is the normal route which Ropen takes when it’s coming into Umboi Island from the mainland of PNG. . . .

It seems that the ropen does appear in daylight, on rare occasions. Thus we have eyewitness accounts with detailed descriptions, including detailed estimates of tail length. This consistent description of a long tail refutes the criticism that the ropen is just an unclassified species of bat, rather than a pterosaur. Critics consistently ignore reports of long tails.

Around 2004, the paleontologist Glen Kuban wrote a web page (revised, apparently, through 2007) criticizing the belief that any pterosaurs are still living. He says, “A number of large birds, as well as large fruit bats, can present pterosaur-like shapes, especially if seen from a distance or in silhouette.” But his web page says nothing about any long tail reported on an apparent modern pterosaur. A sketch of a long-tailed pterosaur he displays, as well as two photos of the giant Flying Fox fruit bat (those bats appear to have no tail at all). Why speculate about sightings in the dark? Some daylight sightings of ropens reveal a long tail.

The only instance of the word “tail” on Kuban’s web page is on a caption of a photo of a pterosaur fossil. Why ignore the testimony of the American World War II veteran Duane Hodgkinson? He made it clear that the creature that flew up from the clearing, in plain view in daylight, had a tail “at least ten or fifteen feet” long.

Why did Mr. Kuban write a long web page, with dozens of paragraphs, to disuade people from believing in reports of living pterosaurs? He seems to be most concerned about protecting the standard models of geology. He did not, apparently, conduct any objective research to evaluate and report the most relevant details from the eyewitness reports that so strongly suggest that Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs live in Papua New Guinea.

See also: The nonfiction pterosaur book about sightings in the United States

See also: Problems with a bat interpretation

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